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(CNN)Hurricane Florence has made landfall in North Carolina, but its crawling pace and overwhelming storm surges are setting up hours and hours of destruction and human suffering — with dozens desperately awaiting rescue in one flooded city alone.
"On the forecast track, the center of Florence will approach the coasts of North and South Carolina later tonight, then move near or over the coast of southern North Carolina and northeastern South Carolina in the hurricane warning area on Friday," the update said. "A slow motion across portions of eastern and central South Carolina is forecast Friday night through Saturday night."
Hurricane Florence @ midnight 9.13.18Pungo River is raging across Belhaven, NCStay safe yall! pic.twitter.com/zYbKCKBLnY
Areas from Edisto Beach to South Santee River in South Carolina were under both a storm surge and hurricane watch, while areas located north of Duck, N.C., to the states border with Virginia were under a storm surge watch, according to the NHC update.
CNNs Judson Jones, Kaylee Hartung, Chuck Johnston, AnneClaire Stapleton, John Berman, Michelle Krupa, Dianne Gallagher, Marnie Hunter, Amanda Jackson, Holly Yan and Michael Guy contributed to this report.
The storm is likely to bring significant rain to the Carolinas, where some places could see upwards of 20 inches, the update said. This is expected to cause "catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding."
At least 150 people were awaiting rescue in New Bern early Friday morning as Hurricane Florence lashed the North Carolina coast with strong winds and life-threatening storm surge.
As of 5 a.m. Friday, 200 people had already been rescued as waters rose on the Neuse and Trent rivers, according to Colleen Roberts, a city public information officer.
Whatever happens in Upstate New York, it will be nothing like the potentially catastrphic flooding predicted in the Carolinas and Virginia. The strong, slow-moving storm is already pushing water levels high along the coast and in rivers, and could drop 20 inches or more of rain.
New Bern, a city of about 30,000 residents, saw significant storm surge flooding as the rivers overflowed their banks and swept into town. A flash flood emergency was declared in the area that includes Carteret, Craven, Pamlico and Jones counties Friday morning.
Video: Hurricane Florence closes in on the US coast
Two teams from the Federal Emergency Management Administration, along with Craven County emergency crews, were using boats to rescue people from their homes and vehicles, the Associated Press reports.
Florence has potential to cause $5 billion in property damage
New Bern Mayor Dana Outlaw told The Weather Channel that about 16 county crews were out rescuing those who had refused to heed evacuation warnings and were now stranded.
"We haven't had a storm like this in years," he said. "It's hard to convince some folks [to leave]."
Strom surge that was projected between nine and twelve feet in Pamlico Sound and the Pamlico and Neuse rivers was expected to cause a “tremendous amount of inland flooding,” said Neil Jacobs, assistant secretary at the Commerce Department over the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Craven County spokeswoman Amber Parker told the Durham Herald-Sun the rescues began around 4 p.m. Thursday. She added that water in some places surpassed mailboxes and had reached the second story of homes in low-lying areas.
This storm has been hovering over us for a while, and we expect it to continue to hover over us, she said. Lots of water, lots of wind, lots of storm surge.
The National Hurricane Center says the Neuse Rive has recorded more than 10 feet of inundation from rain and storm surge.
In a tweet, the city warned residents that they may need to move to the second floor of their homes to escape the rising waters.
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